By Justin Spears / Arizona Daily Star
LAS VEGAS — For the third time under Sean Miller, the Arizona Wildcats are the outright Pac-12 Champions, after the Cats took down USC in the Pac-12 Tournament 75-61.
With a team that has been through an emotional roller coaster over the last month, Saturday was a day full of smiles.
Sean Miller, Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dusan Ristic cut down the nets in Las Vegas for the third time together. Miller also surpassed Lute Olson with the most Pac-12 Tournament wins in conference history with 17 and tied his assistant Lorenzo Romar with three tournament titles.
Deandre Ayton once again stole the show with 32 points and 18 rebounds. Ayton became the first player in Pac-12 history to win Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Despite another monstrous performance from Ayton, the Trojans hung tough for most of the game. Then Rawle Alkins happened. With 9:30 to play, the Wildcats led 49-46 in a back-and-forth battle, but Alkins slashed to the bucket and caught a pass from Deandre Ayton. The result: Alkins put USC’s Elijah Stewart on a poster, which inspired the Cats to have a dunk party.
That was the tipping point of the game and Arizona ran away with the title. Now the Wildcats turn their focus to the NCAA Tournament where they’ll likely stay out west and play in San Diego for the first two rounds.
Jackson-Cartwright, Ayton, Alkins, Allonzo Trier and Keanu Pinder all spoke after the game. Here’s what they had to say:
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